It was the day before my 19th birthday. The bridesmaids had gone ahead and I stood waiting for the car to return. My Dad and I. He asked me if I was certain I wanted to do this. Not because he didn’t believe in our relationship, or because he disapproved of Mark, but because he understood the nature of covenant and he was reminding me that from now on, divorce was not an option. My commitment, in my mind, must be until death. Did I understand that?
I smiled at him, at first taken back, (
It’s a bit late now, Dad
!) but then grateful that he cared more about me than the weight of any disappointment a called-off wedding would cause, or any financial waste. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but whether it came out of my mouth or not, I knew that I had no idea about marriage, love was not an illusion and that it would only be by the grace of God we would get through (why exactly were we getting married, again?!). I knew that it was not about a one-time decision to say “yes” but a daily one. And I felt that if both Mark and I were prepared to ask God for His help, and do our best to keep Him at the centre, it would work. However, I do remember that I did say, “Yes, Dad, I’m sure.” And he replied “Phew!”
This year we will have been married for ten years and I feel like we are just beginning to have moments where we get it. And yet, at the same time, more than ever, I am desperately aware of where we don’t! We are very conscious of our failures and they stink!
Even after a decade of marriage Mark and I find that we keep having to come to God, often on a daily basis, and offer up another mess to Him. We are so grateful for His grace that steps in and brings breakthrough. We are also thankful that we now realize that so often a struggle is a prelude to breakthrough – a butterfly’s wrestle to freedom. And that without that struggle, the butterfly would never fly.
I felt God asking me to write a series of posts on marriage back in December after I spent most of last year looking at marriage and asking Him – what is it meant to look like? What does a Spirit-filled, ‘ideal’ marriage look like? What does Spirit-filled, ‘ideal’ sex look like? Is there even such a thing? How can we have a marriage that is a testimony to Christ and His bride to those around us? If marriage here is meant to point to the Heavenly perfect one, how can we do that? And how can marriage be something that spurs one another on to fulfill their earthly destiny, all the while recognizing that earthy marriage is temporary but there is a marriage that will last for eternity?
So, this month is marriage month on this blog and I have a whole selection of posts for you on various aspects of marriage. I have asked some close friends, and wise people I know to give their perspectives and stories and advice too, so you will get to hear some different voices over the next four weeks. You will hear from people who have been married for a decade or few, people who have scarcely said their wedding vows, from a widower and a soon-to-be bride. You will even get to hear from my husband, Mark, who I have asked to contribute because although this is my blog, we are one, and this month would not be complete without him. I am looking forward to it! I hope you are too!
I am aware that some single people read my blog. These posts are for you too. Not because I expect you to get married (although you might!), but because having had so many single people to stay with us over the last five years, it has made me realize how little exposure people get to what married life looks like beyond their own parents (if they were together.) In these posts, I invite you to be a fly on the wall, to pray for those who are in relationships around you, and to encourage them to look at things from God’s perspective where necessary.
And to those of you who are or have been married, I invite you to comment, to share your stories, corrections, opinions and encouragements. Both here and beyond. Share posts you like with others and pray for the marriages around you.
Let’s make this a month where God is glorified through marriage and celebrate His earthly template for His eternal plan!